The 2015 NFL Draft is barely over so that means it's time to starting looking at next year's draft. Who on Mizzou will be the next to join Brad Smith, Jeremy Maclin, SHELDON RICHARDSON, Kony Ealy, Justin Britt and Shane Ray Markus Golden, Mitch Morse and others in the pros?
NFL Draft Recap
NFL Draft Recap
Who on Mizzou's 2015 roster is eligible for the 2016 Draft (via Wikipedia):
"Players who have been out of high school for at least three years are eligible for the NFL draft. The rules do not state that a player must attend college, but virtually all of the players selected in the NFL draft have played college football. A year as a redshirt player in college counts toward eligibility even though the player was not allowed to participate in games during that year, therefore players who have completed their redshirt sophomore year can enter the NFL draft."
The keyword here is red-shirt sophomores or athletes who are three (3) years removed from high school.
Per MUTigers.com 61 players are red-shirt sophomores or older and 19 who are Seniors or RS Seniors meaning it's the NFL draft or graduation after this year. Realistically, only a few of them have potential based on what we've seen so far in their careers. I took the liberty to pair down the list to include the upperclassman and notable red-shirt sophomores:
The list of Mizzou Tigers prospects lists begins with:
Defensive Tackle/End, RS Junior (6-3, 290, 40 yard dash: 4.80)
If you read RockMNation or follow me on twitter, you'll know I'm the President of the Harold Brantley fan club - I get hyped just thinking about watching him play next year. I started championing his play all the way back in 2013 when he earned 6 starts as a red-shirt freshman DT who had the athleticism to also run the dang ball on a fake punt vs Ole Miss.
He had a career high 7 tackles in Mizzou's dramatic Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State before notching 54 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss and 5 sacks in 10 starts last year. He also has a blocked kick for each year he's played for Mizzou (nevermind the one vs Toledo was actually Josh Augusta).
A unique blend of size, speed and ferocity, Brantley is a disruptive force from the defensive tackle position akin to Sheldon Richardson before him. He earned high praise from Alabama fans during last year's SEC Championship game:
Whoever 90 is for Mizzou, he's got a bit of stank in him. Kid hits like an atomic bomb.— Roll Bama Roll (@rollbamaroll) December 6, 2014
A behind the scenes leader for last year's team, Brantley will be thrust into a greater role both on the field and in the locker room with the departure of Markus Golden and Shane Ray. A healthy Harold Brantley is the surest bet to be a top pick in next year's draft and continue Mizzou's "DLINEZOU" tradition.
Projection: 1st or 2nd round pick
Cornerback, Senior (6'0", 200, 40 yard dash: 4.38)
When it comes to Mizzou cornerbacks there are basically two names: Roger Wehrli and E.J. Gaines right? That could change this year with JUCO transfer Kenya Dennis, whose prototypical size and speed combination leap out to casual observers.
Last year Dennis was 6th on the team in tackles (49) had (4.5) tackles for a loss, was second on the team in pass break ups (9) behind Aarion Penton's (10), forced a fumble, an interception and half a sack. Mizzou will rely on him and Aarion Penton to lock down opposing defenses more than ever as they adjust to new schemes and find a pass rush so he'll see more opportunities to make plays than perhaps any time last year.
Projection: 1st or 2nd round pick
Center/Guard, Senior (6-3, 315)
I've probably give this section more consideration than any of the other players because of the uniquity of the position. Only 2 centers were drafted in the first three rounds of the 2015 Draft and only 6 overall, with Rimington Trophy winner Reese Dismukes from Auburn going undrafted. Going back to 2014, only 9 centers were drafted, with 3 going in the first three rounds.
Evan Boehm is a strong, quick-footed, career starter who is playing the center position because of his intelligence and leadership qualities not because it's an ideal fit for him. He makes more sense as an NFL guard than center due to a propensity for being knocked back by strong defenders, something only the superior linemen can overcome and one of the things scouts will look for during evaluations.
There's almost as much to say about his personal characteristics as there are his physical ones; he combines vocal leadership and charisma with a powerful frame and low center of gravity born from his wrestling background. It remains to be seen if his athleticism translates to the next level.
@BKSportsTalk Brantley showed flashes, looking forward to seeing more on him. Boehm too. Mizzou always has more guys I like than I expect— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) May 4, 2015
More known for defensive lineman, Mizzou has created a bit of buzz with consecutive 2nd round offensive lineman Justin Britt (Seattle Seahawks) and Mitch Morse (Kansas City Chiefs). Just like I don't believe in "recruiting momentum" I don't think this guarantees anything for Evan Boehm, but it certainly suggests NFL scouts are paying attention to both sides of the trenches when they watch Mizzou.
Projection: 2nd or 3rd round pick
Linebacker, RS Senior (6-1, 240, 40 yard dash: 4.84)
Brothers' size might suggest he'd be better suited in coverage than stuffing the run, but he was Mizzou's leader in tackles (122) ahead of middle linebacker Michael Scherer (114), had 5 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, 4 passes broken up, 3 fumbles forced and had 6 games last year with double digit tackles. He's started every game the past two years and is primed to have another year of standout production.A weakside linebacker at the next level because of his speed and instincts, Brothers may need to impress scouts with something other than triple digit tackle numbers to wow scouts.
@BKSportsTalk LB Kentrell Brothers is a player I like. Definitely on the NFL radar.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) May 4, 2015
Projection: 4th round pick
Running back, Senior (5'9", 195, 40 yard dash: good enough to beat Texas A&M)
An under-sized back, Russell Hansbrough has remarkable lateral agility and vision but appears make up for a lack of break-away speed with an intense eagerness to hurt every defender aiming to tackle him - sometimes to his own detriment. Russell "Mansbro" Hansbrough serves as great college running back but lacks many of the characteristics that scouts and GMs desire, particularly in the depressed running back market of the modern NFL. When I project him to the next level I want to see the next Maurice Jones-Drew but realistically he's more in the mold of a Kendial Lawrence.
Projection: 4th round pick
Names to watch:
Offensive Lineman, RS Senior (6-4/300)
A natural guard, Mizzou has McGovern set to play left tackle for 2015, a position that doesn't accentuate his particular skill set. Along with Evan Boehm, McGovern should move to guard at the NFL level where his strength, tenacity at the point of attack and mobility on counter trap pulls will give him the best shot. If McGovern acquits himself at tackle and stays healthy, he could prove to be the fastest riser on the team and follow Mitch Morse and Justin Britt before him.
Linebacker, RS Junior (6-3/235)
A smart, instinctual player with a solid blend of size and athleticism, Scherer probably remains at Mizzou for his senior year unless he significantly improves in all facets of his game. It's not a knock against Scherer, but rather a statement about the sheer number of talented athletes playing the same position as him across the NCAA, perhaps behind only running back and wide receiver. It may sound cliche, but to really turn heads he'll need to show an outstanding ability to stuff the run and drop into coverage from the middle linebacker position.
Cornerback, RS Junior (6-0/190)
A corner with ideal size, Gibson will need to display improved tackling fundamentals in addition to one on one coverage skills while fighting for playing time against incumbent starters Aarion Penton and Kenya Dennis. He'll have opportunities to impress as the staff moved him into the slot or nickle corner for 2015. There's also the little matter of that 4th quarter defensive pass interference penalty against Indiana.
Linebacker, RS Junior (6-2/230)
Strong blitzing linebacker with tremendous speed but limited production, Newsom may benefit most of all from Barry Odom's changes to Mizzou's defense. Well- suited to playing the "Jack", "Dawg" or "Tiger-back" linebacker position off the edge, Mizzou's leader in sacks next year may well be Newsom by design.
Defensive End, RS SO (6-3/280)
With an ideal build, Charles Harris looks the part but lacks production at the college level. A spectacular year may garner him interest but scouts will be concerned about consistency and will want to see him produce over the course of two years before investing even a lower pick in him. Harris will also need to demonstrate he's capable of playing in space, something he struggled with on the edge last year, and that he isn't a product of the talent around him.